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Wednesday 23rd
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

Ex-chancellor berates May for failing to invest in north

GEORGE OSBORNE was branded “hypocritical” yesterday after suggesting the Prime Minister should commit to a “northern powerhouse” rail network to unlock economic potential.

The former chancellor was writing in the Financial Times when he called on Theresa May to commit to building high-speed rail links across the north of England.

Mr Osborne, who chairs the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, suggested that investment in transport for the north could create 850,000 jobs and £97 billion to the economy.

He wrote: “The Northern Powerhouse Rail fits with Ms May’s stated objective of building an economy that works for everyone.

“Far be it for me to offer advice to the Prime Minister on how to relaunch her premiership this autumn, but making this big commitment to the north at the Conservative conference in Manchester would not be a bad place to start.”

Plans for HS3 would see Liverpool linked to Hull — a journey that currently takes longer than a rail trip from London to Paris. Estimates for HS3 stand at £7 billion.

But rail unions slammed Mr Osborne’s hypocritical sudden concern for the railway.

Transport and Salaried Staff Association general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Nice to see former chancellor rallying for rail. It’s a shame he never put his money where his mouth is in any one of the seven years he was chancellor.”

While rail workers’ union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The hypocrisy of former Tory chancellor George Osborne as he tours the newsrooms fuelling the civil war inside the Tory Party is extraordinary.”

He pointed to the “real legacy” of Mr Osborne’s period in government of “axed electrification, modernisation and renewal programmes, and private train companies given a political instruction to axe safety-critical guards from their trains.

“Our members are fighting for safe, accessible rail services for all, while the Tories are busy fighting among themselves,” he said.

The Labour Party has pledged to upgrade the rail network throughout Britain, including a £10bn commitment for Crossrail for the north, with shadow secretary of state for transport Andy McDonald hitting out at the Tories for “abandoning the north, having just pulled the plug on the full electrification of the TransPennine route.

“Investing in transport is essential to rebalancing the economy and boosting growth across the country.”